SeaTac’s initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for low-wage hospitality and transportation workers around the airport is now in legal limbo and may be in serious jeopardy of failing to get on the ballot.
Late yesterday, King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas ruled that the petition is invalid because 61 registered voters supposedly signed their name to it more than once. As a result, the petition is a mere 17 signatures shy of the needed 1,541.
“I thought this was done deal last week,” SeaTac Mayor Tony Anderson told Seattle Weekly this morning.
Judge Darvas’ ruling was so strongly written that it gives the impression that initiative supporters will face an uphill battle in their attempt to reverse her decision, or to convince the judge to allow the city to process an additional 250 signatures that they submitted yesterday.
Darvas said SeaTac and the SeaTac city clerk “are prohibited and must desist and refrain from sending the initiative measure to King County,” and must “take whatever actions are required to remove the measure from proceeding by the King County Elections Department.”
Yes! For SeaTac supporters, said spokeswoman Heather Weiner, will file a written request today with Judge Darvas, asking her to clarity the order and direct the City Clerk to accept and process the 250 signatures.
Weiner added that they will also ask Judge Darvas to reconsider her ruling invalidating the 61 signatures.
SeaTac City Attorney Mary Bartolo told the Weekly that she acknowledged receiving the signatures yesterday. “But until we get a court order ordering us to proceed in processing them, we’re not going to risk any contempt.” Bartolo said. “It’s a little bit of a quagmire we have going here.”
The deadline for valid signature gathering needed to place the SeaTac Good Jobs Initiative -- also known as SeaTac Proposition 1 -- on the fall ballot is Sept. 6.
From the outset, the measure to raise wages 62 percent – from the $9.19 to $15 an hour for an estimated 6,000 workers – has been loudly opposed by Alaska Airlines, the Washington Restaurant Association, car rental agencies and major hotels, all of who argue that it would force them to stop hiring workers.
Proposition 1 proponents say it would inject millions of dollars into the local economy and create good middle class jobs at the airport and related industries.
In July, the SeaTac City Council voted unanimously to leave the wage increase decision to the voters. According to Yes! For SeaTac, the City Clerk and the SeaTac Petition Review Board all agreed that SeaTac voters had turned in more than enough valid signatures to put the initiative on the ballot, but that Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association went back to court.
The “Good Jobs” initiative was signed by more than 2,500 petitioners in SeaTac.
According to Weiner’s statement today on behalf of the wage-increase supporters, “Big airlines, rental car companies, the Washington Restaurant Association and other multinational and overseas corporations have already contributed close to $250,000 to overturn this citizen-led initiative, attempting to maintain a rigged system that benefits their own bottom line at the expense of hard working SeaTac families.”